Fair Trading reminds retailers of strict lay-by rules

QUEENSLAND retailers have been put on notice with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) about to launch a statewide compliance operation targeting sales practices, such as lay-bys.

The OFT will be ensuring retailers are adhering to the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) when offering lay-bys to consumers, as well as related refund policies.

Fair Trading executive director Brian Bauer said ensuring lay-by rules were being followed was an important step in maintaining consumer confidence across the state.

"By definition, lay-bys are binding agreements between traders and consumers and should be treated as such," Mr Bauer said.

"Under the ACL, when goods are put on lay-by, the business and the consumer agree on a fixed price and payment conditions.

"Businesses are obligated to have the goods available for the period of time stated in the terms and conditions of the agreement."

Lay-by agreements must be in writing and should be transparent, specifying the goods, total cost, deposit required, timeframe of the lay-by, as well as information on any cancellation and refund policies that apply.

If a consumer cancels a lay-by agreement, the business must do a refund.

Businesses cannot break a lay-by agreement, except when there's a breach of a term of the agreement by the consumer, when the goods are no longer available for reasons outside the trader's control, or the business is no longer trading.